Photo: Rachel Kovach with NY Giants Mark Herzlich, both wearing jerseys.
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - When one decides to become an educator, one of the top reasons is to teach students and help them to grow. Quickly, it is easy to see how students can often teach us. Today was a perfect example of just that. I was lucky enough to watch as Rachel Kovach, and 8th grader at Mother Teresa Regional School, recorded a public service announcement with Mark Herzlich of the New York Giants. Rachel has taught me so many lessons throughout her battle with cancer.
Although Rachel could have asked for a trip to Disney, tickets to a concert, or meeting a famous swimmer, she chose to have her Make a Wish be about helping others. Lesson #1 – Put Others First. Since her initial diagnosis of Ewing Sarcoma, Rachel has been all about helping others. She participated in fundraisers, started a blog, spoke to large groups, joined the Junior Board of Children's Hospital and the Make Some Noise Foundation, and has visited with other patients. Her wish was to make a public service announcement about pediatric cancer.
Rachel has spoken at school about pediatric cancer and its impact on families and children. Lesson #2- Lead the Way. Rather than expect others to raise awareness, Rachel has been leading the way. Along with the Make Some Noise Foundation, she has being working to raise the public awareness about the prevalence of Pediatric Cancer (1 in 320 children) and the need for more research funding (only 3%) to find cures. Her blog on the Philadelphia Inquirer has been sharing her story with the public. Her poise and maturity have been inspiring.
Rachel and her family invited me to join with them today. Lesson #3- Share the Joy. I am a HUGE GIANTS fan. Meeting Mark Herzlich was absolutely awesome and he is a true Giant. It took all of my self control not to do a little dance when I walked into the locker room at the Timex Center today. I managed not to bow when seeing John Mara and Jerry Reese while having lunch. I even stayed on the sideline and didn't take a turn at the tackle dummy. I will always be grateful to Rachel for the chance to be with her today.
Over the past two years, Rachel has always been with a smile. Lesson #4- Keep the Faith. When my daughter, Grace, and I visited Rachel during her chemo treatments, she was still laughing and joking. She was determined to be hopeful, to not despair, and to trust that God would care for her. Rachel never lost sight of the end goal to be a cancer survivor.
I hope that when people see Rachel and Mark's public service announcement, they take the time to learn some lessons as well and help make Rachel's wish come true. Let's raise awareness about pediatric cancer and help fund research.
Rachel's PSA will be launched soon. You can follow Rachel at her blog "Onco Girl" or look for information about her PSA at Mother Teresa Regional School's website mtregional.com. Rachel's school community can't wait to see the announcement appear.